Welcome to the latest in our series of Quilt School free patchwork tutorials! Have you ever fallen in love with a pattern pieced from an intricate arrangement of squares, but were put off by all the seams? Well, this nifty method is the perfect time saver, getting your squares pieced quickly and accurately. It’s really handy for smaller patchwork pieces, making it a great timesaver if you’re looking to use up some pretty scraps! Scroll down and let’s get started…
How to speed-piece patchwork squares
1 First, work out the size of your piece
Before we begin, you’ll some lightweight fusible interfacing, and to prepare a batch of fabric squares, all cut to the same size. Now take this square size and multiply by the number of rows to get the height of your piece. Multiply your square size by the number of columns to get the width of your piece. Use these measurements to cut a piece of lightweight fusible interfacing. For example, if you are working with 21⁄2in squares in a 6×4 grid, you would cut a 15in x 10in piece of interfacing. When sewn, this will give you a final size of 12in x 8in with 2in finished squares.
2 Arrange your squares
With the sticky side of your interfacing up, lay your squares out on top. Try to make your rows and columns as neat as possible, making sure your fabric edges are just touching without overlapping. It’s best to do this step on top of your ironing board. If your piece is too big for the ironing board, just lay out the bottom section of your squares at this point.
3 Reach for your iron!
Using a pressing sheet, fuse your squares to the interfacing, following the manufacturer’s instructions. The pressing sheet will protect your iron, in case there are any bits of uncovered interfacing, while also keeping your fabrics from being scorched. Once this section of squares is in place, move your interfacing along to add squares to the next section. Work until your entire sheet is covered with rows of squares fused to the interfacing.
4 Time for some speedy seam sewing
Fold the right hand row of squares down, right sides together. Sew along the fold using a 1⁄4in seam. Finger press the seam to one side, then press with the iron from the front. Fold the next row over, sew and press the seam to one side. Keep working until you have sewn all the rows in one direction. Give a final press from the front, making sure to get the seams as flat as possible.
5 Now give it a go horizontally
Turn your piece so the sewn seams all run horizontally. Fold down the first row, sew and press as you did before, being careful to keep the horizontal seams all running in their pressed direction. Work across the piece until all seams are sewn. Press from the front working the seams flat and your piecing is complete!
Tip: This technique adds the interfacing as an extra layer to your piecing, so be sure to use a lightweight variety to avoid a stiff finish.
Try it now: Fair Isle Squared cushion tutorial
Give a classic knitting style a patchwork twist using your new speed piecing skills. We’ll show you how with this free patchwork tutorial…
You will need
- Lightweight interfacing
- 251⁄2in square
- Three hundred and seven (307) 11⁄2in squares (see below for details)
- Backing fabric, two (2) 171⁄2in x 12in pieces
- Cushion pad 18in square
Seam allowances are 1⁄4in throughout, unless otherwise noted.
Step one: For the cushion front cut your squares as follows:
- One hundred twenty (120) white
- Forty nine (49) red
- Forty four (44) grey
- Forty four (44) green
- Thirty two (32) blue
Step two: Cut an additional eighteen (18) squares in a random assortment. These will be used later for your binding strip.
Piecing the cushion front
Step three: Create the cushion front using your squares and interfacing as described in the technique focus and referring to the layout diagram below.
Binding and finishing
Step four: Sew your remaining squares into a long strip. Fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together, to form a binding strip. Use this strip to bind one long edge of one backing piece, trimming any excess at the sides. Hem one long edge of the remaining backing piece.
Step five: With your cushion top facing up, lay your bound backing piece right side down, aligning raw edges at the top with the bound edge in the middle. Layer your hemmed backing piece right side down, aligning raw edges at the bottom with the hem overlapping in the centre. Pin in place.
Step six: Sew all the way around your cushion. You may find it easier to use a walking foot to sew through all the layers. Trim your corners and turn right side out. Give a good press and pop over your cushion pad.
TIP: Colour placement. Experiment with colour before you commit! Use graph paper and coloured pencils to test out different designs before you start. You can also use knitting or cross stitch charts for inspiration.